Americans eat, on average, around 250 eggs per person per year. Factory farmed egg laying hens, also known as battery hens, provide a vast majority of these eggs consumed in the United States. Modern intensive methods of farming push these hens to produce close to 300 eggs each per year. These animals are robbed of the conditions necessary for them to express their natural behaviors, provided a measly 4 inches of feeding space in a small cage often shared by four or more other hens. While hens have a life expectancy of 6 years or more, their productivity begins to decline after only 12 months of laying, marking when “spent hens” are most often slaughtered.
However, a new movement has sprung up in several countries with large numbers of battery hens, including the UK, Australia, and the US, aimed at providing factory farmers with an alternative to slaughter and these birds with a chance at a normal existence. These hens can be saved from slaughter and with many animal lovers realizing the incredible companionship of these sentient creatures, more and more are beginning to adopt rescue chickens. When these hens leave their cages, they are often in a dismal state. Most are de-beaked after birth to prevent pecking and many suffer from feather loss due to stressful and inadequate living conditions. These birds are being given a second chance at a life once out of their reach.
Some birds, like the one pictured above, require some extra special TLC. Hen jumpers or sweaters are given to birds to keep them warm while their plumage grows back.
To adopt a rescue hen, or to find out more information about the movement, visit one of the following links.
Farm Sanctuary National Placement Board (US)
British Hen Welfare Trust (UK)
Homes for Hens (Aus)
Image: Little Hen Rescue